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HCC offers green building certificate for construction students

A model home under construction on the Haywood Community College campus is giving construction majors hands-on training in green building techniques.

The demonstration house will take two years to build. It was launched in conjunction with a new green building track within the construction degree.

The green home will not only help students get hands-on experience in green building techniques, but will continue to serve as a model for builders and the public. That lasting impact was one of the primary goals.

“We wanted to build a house that someone could look at and say ‘I might not be able to do all this, but I can do some of it,’” said John Mark Roberts, an instructor for the green building certification.

Roberts has seen lots of inquiries into the green building certificate since its launch this fall. Construction students are excited about the extra skill set that will hopefully set them apart from others in the building industry.

“I think it will be in high demand in the future,” said Trent Burgess, 18. “With all the green stuff coming in, there will be more and more people wanting their houses built green. So I figured I could get a head start on it.”

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The green building certificate can be earned as a compliment to HCC’s construction degree, or as a stand-alone program, which appeals to builders already in the profession who want to expand their skills — especially these days.

“Times are slack as you know,” said Al Dinofa, a builder who decided to put his down time in the industry to good use by getting his green building certificate at HCC. “I’m learning a lot of different things.”

Even those who don’t start out drawn to the green building track soon realize its worth.

“All my students are seeing that it is marketable,” said Roberts.

Among them is Colby Stamey, 20, who started out in the regular construction program last year.

“I think it will become useful in the years to come,” Stamey said.

Even those who don’t take the special track will get an extra helping of green building techniques — a direct result of HCC’s campus-wide sustainability focus.

“It is pretty heavily incorporated in our general curriculum,” Roberts said.

Green building is more than the use of eco-friendly materials, although that’s certainly part of it. But it also means disturbing as little land as possible outside the building’s actual footprint and protecting streams from erosion runoff.

Energy is also a big part of the program. Graduates will be versed in geothermal heating and solar technology. Students will be able to perform an energy rating for a house once they’ve built it, including testing for air leaks and giving the buyer an estimated annual energy cost.

The green building demonstration house is funded largely by the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory, a research arm of the U.S. Forest Service. Financial support also came from the Janirve Foundation, Progress Energy and Home Trust Bank.

“Building green is certainly going to be a wave of the future,” said N.C. Sen. Joe Sam Queen, D-Waynesville, who attended the September groundbreaking on the green building demonstration house and is an architect. “It’s great to see the community college focus on that. To have a whole new generation of contractors who know best practices, that’s a good thing.”

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